You Have to Let Go For Me to Throw It

PAGE  E4    WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL                                                                                                                 Sunday  July 20, 1997

 VISUAL ART      EYE ON ART    /   Tom Patterson 



In Linda Johnson's small raku sculpture. You Have To Let Go For Me To Throw It, an
emaciated figure with a leering face half reclines in an attempt to wrestle a ball from
the jaws of a bug-eyed dog that looks determined not to relinquish it. The muscular,
cartoonish style of the piece and sense of movement that it conveys makes it one of
the shows most successful sculpture.

The Stuff Fairytails are Made of

Tennessee State Conference and Exhibition

"What a beautiful treatment of what would seem like a rather mundane pose.
You found life in the horizontal. There is a sense of moodiness, yet innocent 
play. I look for the unexpected, attention to the not so obvious, backgrounds,
negative space and how they work with and compliment the focal point of the piece.
Art is a unity of all those factors. An effective artist sees all viewpoints and moods
of his, or in this case, her, work."

juror:  Dianne Shaw


This article ran in the Hendersonville Star News May 27, 1988

Jan. 2012 May and Meg was accepted into the AVA membership
exhibit  Chattanooga, TN

Mar. 2012 May and Meg was accepted into the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival  Knoxville, TN

Aug. 2012 May and Meg was accepted into the TACA Biennial Best of Tennessee Craft  Nashville, TN


Local Artist Sees Art in Everything

By Linda Worsham

At her home, nestled in the woods off the steep winding roads on the way to Defeated Creek, Linda Johnson claims enthusiastically, “Art is in everything, not just a drawing, a painting, or a sculpture.” A piece of Ms Johnson's art was recently accepted for the Tennessee Art League's 41st Central South Art Exhibition. Linda's clay sculpture of a young mother, titled: When it Rains, it Pours, is one of only 67 pieces of art chosen for the show, from more than 400 entries.

Ms. Johnson's art has received recognition and awards that many artists only dream about; but her creativity shines through in more than the pieces of art she exhibits. “I have a passion for art in all forms,” the energetic artist explains.  

Nowhere is that passion for all things creative more evident than in and around the Johnson home. Linda talks about her incubator-raised chickens, hummingbird feeders made from plastic coke bottles and ongoing do-it-yourself home renovation projects with the same unbridled enthusiasm she pours into her art.

The Johnson garden gate is even a work of art, with its sunburst above rows of little squares with vegetable shaped cut-outs. Linda collaborated with her husband David on the design for the metal gate that he built. Kilns, for Linda's pottery and clay work, share space in David's metal shop. When a piece of sculpture needs an armature to support the outer surface, Linda cranks up the Hobart welder and starts to design the metal skeleton that will be hidden deep within the finished work of art.

The recognition Linda Johnson has earned as an artist includes numerous first place and best of show awards from exhibitions across Tennessee and several other states. Her work is always on exhibit by commission at the Finer Things Gallery on Nolensville Road in Nashville. Linda's Tennessee Mockingbird Christmas tree ornament was selected for First Lady Laura Bush's “All Creatures Great and Small” 2002 White House Christmas decorations theme. The glazed paper-covered metal sculpture was placed on the tree in the Blue Room.

Recalling her recent role judging entries in the Arts in Bloom Exhibition in Lafayette, Linda described what she looks for in a painting. “I like to see a brush stroke placed where it is because it had to be there and that is the only place it could possibly be,” Linda explained.  

Ms Johnson studied commercial art at the Illinois Institute of Art (Ray Vogue), in Chicago IL; graphic design at West Shore Community College in Ludington MI; and clay at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, TN. Formal education and training provided knowledge of tools and techniques, but Linda's vivid imagination is the heartbeat of her work.

Linda combines a touch of the familiar with a heaping helping of unexpected fantasy to create art that stirs the viewer's feelings, and speaks without making a sound. She describes the joy of creating art that makes an emotional connection between the artist and the viewer. Linda adds that people often equate art with beauty but, “Art is not necessarily beautiful.”

Ms Johnson's ‘Dung Beetle' sculpture found a permanent home at Owl's hill in the nature center at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art. The metal and fiberglass sculpture was originally selected, from more than 30 designs, as an alternate entry for the 2002 summer outdoor exhibit depicting ten different types of tree houses. The giant metal Dung Beetle, holding a 6 foot 8 inch diameter (welded steel and fiberglass) dung ball, provides an interactive educational display where kids of all ages can learn about how recycling occurs in nature.

The idea for the (much) larger than life dung beetle sculpture came to Linda when a neighbor's cow manure wouldn't ‘heat up' the way it's supposed to because the cow feed had been treated with antibacterial agents. Bacteria growth is needed to break down organic waste.

A piece of art depicting a dung beetle's job in nature certainly supports Linda Johnson's claim, “art is in everything”.

In 2003, the folks at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital requested one of the sculptures from Linda's exhibit at the Finer Things Gallery, but the piece was already sold. The piece Vanderbilt requested was a fanciful sculpture titled “Miss Stella Whitney”, a life-size dog wearing a dress while sitting on a bench, holding a compact mirror, and applying lipstick.

Now, instead of a primping dog, a fiddling frog stands tall on his lily pad at the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. The large fiberglass-covered metal sculpture, titled “Lite Lunch”, provides an example of the whimsy that appears so often in Ms Johnson's work. Frog fingers press just the right strings on the violin, while an unsuspecting little bug sits on the tip of Mr. Frog's bow. Lighted fireflies glow from inside the talented frog's belly.

Visitors can enjoy Ms Johnson's newest clay sculpture, When it Rains, it Pours, at the 41st Central South Art Exhibition that began on June 1st and runs through July 28. The event is in the Tennessee Art League's new facility located at 800 Broadway in Nashville, across from The Frist Center for Visual Arts. Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, and admission is free.

Each viewer may perceive a different version of the story told by Ms Johnson's sculpture of a young mother, but the powerful piece will definitely stir emotions. When it Rains, it Pours, conveys the artist's impressive versatility and her unique ability to communicate on many different levels, through her art.